Friday, 6 April 2018

The First Wives Club (1996)

Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler star in this very enjoyable comedy about three women who decide to exact revenge upon their greedy, selfish husbands by hitting them where it hurts - right in the wallet.

After the suicide of their old schoolfriend (Stockard Channing), three women reunite after too many years of no contact. Annie (Keaton) is in denial while her husband works through commitment issues, Elise (Hawn) is about to see half of her stuff handed over to her husband in an unfair divorce settlement, and Brenda (Midler) is trying to keep a brave face on things as she watches her husband (Dan Hedaya) spoiling his new, younger, girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker). While considering how much they have given up for their men, and how badly they have been treated, they decide to work together to create a satisfying plan to help them feel better, and also help all women who have been put in similar situations.

Based on a novel by Olivia Goldsmith, the male screenwriter (Robert Harling) and male director (Hugh Wilson) don't ever work against the material as it best complements the female leads. It may be men behind the camera but in front of the camera this is, as you'd expect, all for the women. And they're all great in their roles. Keaton does her strait-laced, uptight thing, Hawn has almost as much fun playing on the vanity of her character as she did in Death Becomes Her, and Midler just reminds everyone of how brilliant and hilarious she can be. Parker is a lot of fun playing young and shallow, Elizabeth Berkley and Marcia Gay Harden both have fun in small rolers, and Maggie Smith is on top side-eye form. A few of the main male characters are quite immediately forgettable, which is fine, but there are a number of good scenes involving Dan Hedaya, and the talented Bronson Pinchot gets to have a lot of fun as an interior designer helping the women to execute their plan.

There's nothing unpredictable here, considering the title of the film and the target audience demographic. You have one or two montage moments, you have friends singing one of their favourite songs, you have a mix of determined scheming and wistful recollections of dissipated romance. The leads lift each other up, they have insults ready to put down their enemies, and you get a typically lively, and often harmlessly bland, soundtrack.

I'm not sure how the majority of female viewers find this (judging by the reaction of my wife, I have to assume that most enjoy it) but it's hard to see how this would upset anyone too much. It's a one-two punch, basing everything on lead characters who are both female and a bit beyond their mid-20s, and that adds an interesting, positive, aspect to material that could have easily been a lot lazier, or twisted into something much more bitter.


You can buy the film here.
Americans can buy it here.

No comments:

Post a Comment